Airline pilots today must not only worry about the mechanical performance of their aircraft, they must also be quick thinking when it comes to avoiding obstacles during takeoffs and landings. The pilot of a SpiceJet Boeing 737-800 in India, however, had an unfortunate experience this week during his takeoff at Surat Airport, located north of the city of Mumbai. A buffalo had unexpectedly wandered onto the runway and the pilot could not avoid striking the animal.
The SpiceJet pilot reported that the buffalo was not visible in his field of vision because its dark hair blended in with the dark surface of the Surat runway during the nighttime takeoff. There were no reports of any injuries to the airliner’s crew or passengers, although the buffalo did not survive the collision. The aircraft itself sustained enough damage that it was taken away for repairs and the passengers placed onto another aircraft to continue their travels onto Delhi.
“Stray animals are a growing menace in some airports. This incident has affected our regular operations and hence SpiceJet flights from Surat will now be suspended indefinitely,” an airline statement said.
The chief operating officer of SpiceJet posted a tweet informing all customers of SpiceJet, ranked as the fourth largest commercial airline carrier in India, that the company was temporarily suspending all operations out of Surat until the problem of animals on the runway could be addressed. SpiceJet COO Sanjiv Kapoor squarely placed the blame for the scary incident on the lack of security provided by airport officials to help keep the runway free of roaming animals and other debris. It’s not known what type of fencing, if any, is located on airport property.
Plane Hits Buffalo